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Cheng Yujin hesitated for a moment. Some men were indeed very possessive and would misuse his position to suppress his former rivals, but how could Li Chengjing do such a childish and extreme thing? Cheng Yujin thought he was joking, so she responded with a chuckle: “Your Highness is wronging me. When I was still in Cheng family’s manor, I stayed under your eyes most of the time and ignored other people, so how can you not understand how I am? I never have any contacts with these two men, and even on the rare occasions where we met by chance, I always avoided them.”
“I know.” Li Chengjing held Cheng Yujin’s hand. Her fingers were long and very slender, and Li Chengjing could cover them all in his single palm. He seemed to have something more to say, but in the end, said nothing. “I never doubted you. It is all their wishful thinking.”
As for the matter of Cheng Yujin seeking marriage on her own, Li Chengjing chose to have selective amnesia. In any case, Cheng Yujin was always right, and the fault must lie on those men.
This topic was dangerous, so Cheng Yujin stayed silent. Of course it wasn’t her fault. At that time, she didn’t even dare put the Crown Prince into the list of her marriage prospect. As for Li Chengjing’s feelings towards her? How could she guess it then?
Li Chengjing squeezed the silky smooth hand in his palm and suddenly said: “When I was a child, I often complained about the injustice of heaven who wantonly deprived me of my birthright. But now I have arrived at this point, I am very grateful for my good luck. If it wasn’t for heaven’s pre-arranged destiny, how could I know you?”
Cheng Yujin raised her eyebrow subtly, but she didn’t take those words into her heart. She retracted her hand from Li Chengjing’s grip, poured a new cup of tea, and then handed it to the man. She then said with a smile: “Your Highness praises me too much, but I am thankful for your love. Your Highness, you didn’t eat much at the noon meal, so I hastily prepared a few small bites to make do. Later, I will prepare another meal for the evening.”
Li Chengjing took the tea. He glanced down at the exquisite pastries on the table and couldn’t help but smile: “If these things you made are just to make do, the pastries made by the imperial cooks will be unpalatable in comparison.”
Whenever Cheng Yujin moved her hand, she would always do it to the extreme. The few pastries she brought were all exquisite and beautiful. They were excellent in color, aroma, and taste, which aroused people’s appetite by just taking a sight. Li Chengjing picked up one of the pastries and asked curiously: “How did you make it?”
The pastry Li Chengjing held in hand was blue and white in color, with the blue gradually transitioned into porcelain white. Because its surface was shaped exquisitely, the two colors produced varied and very natural patterns. It was only a piece of pastry, but it looked like high-quality porcelain art.
This one was the recipe Cheng Yujin accidentally found out. After a taste test, the taste was just acceptable, but since it looked beautiful, she still brought it along.
Unexpectedly, Li Chengjing picked this particular piece among the others. But he was not to blame. After all, a pastry that looked like porcelain art was too eye-catching.
Cheng Yujin said: “This is the color I accidentally created after soaking blue pea flowers. I didn’t expect the color to become a gradation after being soaked, so I was also surprised.”
Li Chengjing nodded slightly. He held the pastry closer and examined it again: “In your opinion, how about using this color in the moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival?”
Cheng Yujin was taken aback for a moment, but then she frowned a little and began to contemplate seriously. Because it was an accidental product, she was simply surprised at the result and didn’t think deeply of other uses. But if she tweaked this recipe to make moon cakes, it would certainly benefit her. Moon cakes were served at Mid-Autumn Festival and symbolized reunion. Making blue and white patterned moon cakes was auspicious and elegant, which fitted the palace banquet. Moreover, she was in charge of the banquet this year and could impress all the high officials, noble dignitaries, and their family members by presenting them with a plate of stunning moon cakes.
Many thoughts flashed by Cheng Yujin’s mind in an instant. She stood up and was about to blow to Li Chengjing. Li Chengjing held her with one hand and asked with a smile: “What are you doing?”
“I am thanking Your Highness. Your Highness’s words have just solved my urgent need. This is a great help to me.” Cheng Yujin was sincere in her gratitude. Li Chengjing was worthy of being an imperial family. Even though he lived outside the palace for many years, the keen instinct and vision he was born with had not faded. Cheng Yujin needed a chance to make a name for herself, but she couldn’t be too conspicuous and steal the limelight from Empress Yang. This kind of entry point was just right for her.
Li Chengjing said: “I just mentioned it casually. You are capable enough on your own.” But right after his voice fell, he suddenly bent over and changed his tone: “However, although talents are always in demand, they are seldom found, and grace should never be forgotten. Tell me, how do you plan to repay me?”
This again. Cheng Yujin glared at Li Chengjing, and then got up to put away the empty food box: “Your Highness is of exemplary conduct with the nobility of character and never asks for anything in return. I admire Your Highness’s noble character very much, so I naturally remember it in my heart and follow your example all the time. This is the best reward I can offer you.”
After Cheng Yujin finished speaking, she did not give Li Chengjing a chance to make a counterargument and swiftly excused herself: “Your Highness is busy taking care of the governmental affairs. This Consort has taken too much of your time. Feeling ashamed, This Consort will retire now.”
That afternoon, the Head Minister of Public Works came for a meeting with Li Chengjing. Having been in the officialdom for many years, the Head Minister had long practiced the ability to focus on the key points in a swift and subtle manner. When he entered the room, he immediately noticed the delicate and beautiful pastries on His Highness’ desk.
The Head Minister vaguely remembered that such things hadn’t been there this morning. Seeing the Head Minister of Public Works was coming, Li Chengjing didn’t spare time for small talks and immediately got to the main points. The Head Minister quickly put aside other thoughts and began to discuss political affairs with the Crown Prince.
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